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Cuba moves straight to semifinals beating USA

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, June 8, 2018.- Cuba beat United States 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 28-26) to move straight to the NORCECA U19 Boy’s Continental Championship semifinals in Gimnasio Nacional of San José, Costa Rica.

Cuba had a dominant overall performance edging the United States team in the first and second sets mostly with their monster blocking. USA had a late reaction pushing harder in set three, keeping the score really close, as both teams showed strength with powerful attacks and accurate blocking. Both missed numerous serves.

Cuba (3-0) tops pool B and will play Saturday’s semifinals, while USA (2-1) finishing second will play to Nicaragua in quarterfinals. The tournament gives two vacancies to next year’s FIVB World Championship.

The Caribbean held a slight advantage of 33-30 in kills and 6-5 in blocks; they were more effective in serves by 6-2. Cuba scored on 33 US errors and allowed 27.

Wing spiker Victor Andreu scored 13 points the only Cuban with double digits; wing spiker José Gutierrez finished with 9 points and opposite Alexei Ramírez with 8 points. Wing spiker Alexander Knight and opposite Scott Solan scored 11 points each for the United States.

Captain Christian Thondike of Cuba said they are well prepared, “there are many people involved in our process, today we showed that our system Works and we hope to reach the finals. Our blocking stopped United States”.

Cuban coach Mario Raul Izquierdo said “this is what we came for, moving one step at a time of reaching the goals we set since our preparation. The competition is going as planned, facing each match focused. I want to dedicate this qualification to semifinals to everybody in Cuba we want them to be proud of our new generation of players”.

Setter Aidan Knight expressed “we all love to compete, it was a good fight. Cuba put a lot of bounce away deep and we had a tough time dealing with that. They passed our three men block and we have to do some small changes for the following matches”.

Coach Brad Keller said to be satisfied with the way his team competed “I really like the fact that we go better as the match went on, that we stayed together and that at the very end we were with them. Hopefully we can have the opportunity to face them again, but first we have to take care of Nicaragua”.

El acomodador Aidan Knight expresó “todos amamos competir, fue una buena pelea. Cuba atacó mucho a la línea de atrás y tuvimos problemas para responder. Superaron nuestro triple bloqueo  y debemos hacer pequeños ajustes para los próximos juegos”.

El entrenador Brad Keller dijo estar satisfecho de la manera que su equipo compitió “me gustó que mejoramos conforme el juego avanzó, de que nos mantuvimos unidos y que al cierre los tuvimos muy cerca. Ojala tengamos la oportunidad de enfrentarnos a ellos de nuevo, pero primero debemos resolver con Nicaragua”.